Longtime Commission Aide Dies





For over two decades, Carol Fitzgerald did the impossible: She kept four Broward County Commissioners happy. 

Fitzgerald, an administration aide for 22 years, died late last month in Jacksonville. She was 78 and succumbed to Inclusion-body Myositis, a disease which causes muscle deterioration.  



From 1978 to 2000, Fitzgerald helped run the offices for Commissioners Anne Kolb, Eve Savage, Scott Cowan and Jim Scott. 

I covered all of them. I spent endless hours with Fitzgerald because she was the gatekeeper.  She was the key to easily obtaining documents and information about what was happening at the Commission.

Believe me, Fitzgerald’s job was not easy.

She had to deal with media folks like me. She had to schmooze an endless parade of political leaders who were important to her bosses’ reelection. She had to balance requests from staff, lobbyists, business types and just average citizens.

And she had to satisfy her bosses, who like many politicians were self-absorbed at times.

Her boss Kolb was a visionary environmentalist. There is even a huge park named after her in Hollywood.

Yet Kolb could be an extremely difficult person at times. She was intensely disliked by elements of the business community, which threw road blocks in Kolb’s way at every chance they could. It didn’t make Fitzgerald’s job easy. 

Savage, who was appointed when Kolb died of cancer, was decidedly low key. 

But Cowan was the business communities’ darling. That role put a different type of pressure on his office staff. Much of the legislation the insiders favored including lucrative development approvals were funneled through Cowan, who also set the agenda on the Commission through much of his reign. 

Fitzgerald controlled access to Cowan. She decided who was ushered into the commissioner’s office and what documents were important enough for his eyes. It was a key position at a time the county was modernizing.

After Cowan, Fitzgerald worked for a short time for Scott. A former Florida Senate President, Scott had a whole new set of VIPs she had to deal with. She helped introduce Scott, a Republican, to the movers-and-shakers she had met through her long career working for Democrats.

After leaving the Commission offices, she was an administrative assistant to the Broward County libraries director.  She moved to Jacksonville in 2012 to be close to her and her husband’s families. 

She was married to Jean Fitzgerald, a former U. S.Navy destroyer captain who was a power at Port Everglades. He ran the Florida Alliance, a group of marine interests which actively opposed oil pipelines that competed with ships. He also was a lobbyist for a large shipping company at Port Everglades. 

Jean Fitzgerald died in 2014.  

Carol Fitzgerald is survived by her sons John McKee Jr. and James McKee, three grandchildren and other family members. 

7 Responses to “Longtime Commission Aide Dies”

  1. Bob says:

    Hadn’t thought much about Scott Cowan in the past two decades, but your description of the business community’s reaction to his removal/incarceration reminds us that corrupt politicians and the money-behind-the-scenes is an enduring part of Broward’s story:

    “Former Broward political kingpin Scott Cowan was sentenced to six months in jail Monday for election law violations and immediately quit his Broward County Commission post……After the sentencing, the crowded courtroom was stunned. Lobbyists, real estate developers, arts patrons, charity workers, restaurant owners and many others who knew Cowan milled around, many with tears in their eyes.” Buddy Nevins (and Michael Turnbell) Nov 28, 2000

    Reminds me of the importance of local journalism and its sad demise in So Fla.


    It must be remembered that Cowan broke election laws, a misdemeanor having nothing to do with public money or public business.

    It also should be remembered that this is a remembrance of Carol Fitzgerald and not a place for politics.

  2. Angelo Castillo says:

    This is sad news. I remember Carol and how gracious and professional she was. Everyone respected her. Carol’s passion was rivers, in fact she wrote a book about American rivers and I recall how proud she was to have visited and photographed every river in the country personally. RIP.


    You are absolutely right about her love of rivers, Angelo. She had a vast collection of Rivers of America books. She donated all the books, correspondence, art work, and files relating to the Rivers of America series and books relating to the Series Americana bibliography to the Rare Books and Manuscripts Division of The Library of Congress.

  3. Gaylord says:

    Carol and Jean were the best.

  4. Leon Sobel says:

    Sad news about a true professional who was one of a kind.

  5. Count LF Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz says:

    If a journalist like Buddy Nevins says someone is clean fair n honest we ALL must lament their loss in this LESS WORTHY time.

  6. Sue Baldwin says:

    Carol was a gracious lady and always nice to staff, which can’t be said for all Commission Aides. She was a pleasure with whom to work and always provided detailed information when asking for staff to handle something.

  7. Floridan says:

    Kolb could be an extremely difficult person at times

    To say the least